Friday, November 11, 2011

Carly Reads: Alumni Edition with David Levithan

What’s up readers?

It’s been a few weeks since my last Alumni Edition post, and I’m so looking forward to reintroducing the feature with one of my all time favorite books, “The Lover’s Dictionary” by David Levithan (TBF alum 2007 and 2009). Technically, “The Lover’s Dictionary” is an adult book, but it definitely has older teen appeal. There is also a “Lover’s Dictionary” Twitter feed (@loversdiction), which I am TOTALLY obsessed with, so if the idea of a novel written in dictionary entries intrigues you, get an idea for the format by checking it out on Twitter.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Struggling to find a word to describe love? In “The Lover’s Dictionary,” you’ll find more than 200 of them.

David Levithan, the author of “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” “Boy Meets Boy,” “Will Grayson, Will Grayson,” and many other acclaimed young adult novels, as well as the editor of the wildly popular “The Hunger Games” series, made his way into the adult fiction world this January with his newest novel, “The Lover’s Dictionary.”

“The Lover’s Dictionary” tells the story of two nameless, twenty-somethings living and dating in New York City. Their story is revealed to the reader in dictionary entries written by the narrator, slowly revealing parts of his relationship with his sweetheart. From the good times (“breathtaking, adj. Those mornings when we kiss and surrender for an hour before you say a single word.”) to the bad times (“reverberate, v. Why did your father leave?”), readers follow the narrator and his lover through the ups and downs of their relationship.

Written by Levithan as a Valentine’s Day gift for his friends, “The Lover’s Dictionary” is not arranged chronologically, but rather alphabetically. According to Levithan, he opened an old book of ‘words you need to know’ to random pages in alphabetical order and then constructed “The Lover’s Dictionary” from these random words. Despite it’s unconventional origin, readers will have no trouble piecing together the story told in “The Lover’s Dictionary.”

“The Lover’s Dictionary” is a lyrical read. It flows beautifully from one word to the next, and will leave the reader dreading the end of a letter’s section, because the end of section means that the book itself is nearing an end. Lovely prose, endearing characters, and a sweet storyline make Levithan’s latest endeavor ethereal. (“Ethereal, adj. You leaned your head into mine, and I leaned my head into yours. Dancing cheek to cheek. Revolving slowly, eyes closed, heartbeat measure, nature’s hum. It lasted the length of an old song, and then we stopped, kissed, and my heart stayed there, just like that.”)

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